No. 87
Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State1

top secret

Cabinet Meeting, Friday, September 21, 1951

possibility utilization iranian oil by ussr

Secretary Lovett made a long report on a study he has had completed with respect to Iran and the possibility of utilization of Iranian [Page 164] oil by the USSR. He pointed out that of a tanker tonnage equivalent of about 1,500T2 worldwide, a substantial amount of tanker tonnage was in the hands of nations other than the US or UK, many under Panamanian registry. He further pointed out that if the USSR should be able to convert Iran to a satellite or other subservient status, USSR could more than likely acquire sufficient tanker tonnage to move substantial quantities of Iranian oil into USSR territory.

He pointed out that under the circumstances it was wrong to assume that the USSR could not make fairly rapid use of Iranian oil and that substantial military effort would be required to prevent this in the event of hostility. He suggested consideration be given to avoiding the possible transfer of tankers to control of the USSR, and if it appears that the British are not going to work out their problem with Iran, the sending in of American technicians and other personnel to operate the oil installations if this became necessary to prevent the USSR from acquiring the advantage of Iranian oil.

After the meeting I suggested to Secretary Lovett that it would cause real difficulty in the immediate trying period if any indication came from anyone in the Government that we were considering putting American technicians into Iran.

  1. Secretary Acheson was in Ottawa for the Seventh Session of the North Atlantic Council, Sept. 15–20; for documentation on this meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, pp. 616 ff.